Saratoga Springs used the long ball to build a quick lead against Schenectady Tuesday night in a Class AA opening-round game of the Section II basketball tournament.
“We couldn’t get over the hump,” said Patriots coach Eric Loudis. “If we could have tied it or gotten ahead, I think momentum would have changed.”
The Blue Streaks made clutch shots all the way through, starting with four three-pointers in the first quarter and ending with 16 free throws down the stretch in a 76-65 win at the Pat Riley Sports Center.
“We had a ton of guys step up, off the bench and starters,” said Blue Streaks senior guard Noah Arciero, who poured in 30 points to go with 13 rebounds. “Guys one through 12 played a great game. It’s pretty sweet to get the win here.”
The win was up for grabs after Randall Symes slammed the ball on a putback to get Schenectady within 35-33 early in the third quarter. Saratoga responded with a 15-3 run, and sealed its first sectional triumph since 2007 with a 16-for-20 free-throw performance over the last 4:22.
“We needed to take care of the ball. Schenectady turns turnovers into points,” said Saratoga coach Matt Usher, who emphasized that to his team during a timeout after Symes’ slam. “When we took care of the ball and moved it, we got good looks.”
Saratoga (Suburban Council No. 5 seed, 12-7) had assists on 19 of its 25 field goals, with Chris Byno collecting eight of them along with 14 points and six steals in a superb all-around effort.
“The guys really shared the ball,” said Usher. “It was great to see a guy giving up a decent shot for a better one.”
Arciero nailed one of Saratoga’s first-quarter threes to help his team go up, 19-11, scored eight points in Saratoga’s 15-3 run that made it 50-36, and went 8-for-10 from the line when the Blue Streaks were holding off the Patriots.
The sectional setback was Schenectady’s third in as many years, and gave the Pats back-to-back loses for the first time this season.
“We went zone. Man-to-man. We tried different things on him,” Loudis said of Arciero. “We knew what he was capable of. He’s a complete player. We had to contain him and didn’t do it.”
Eighth-grader Tobias Holmes paced Schenectady with 23 points, 12 coming in the final quarter, and Keishaun Wheelings had 12 points and 10 rebounds.
A putback basket by Wheelings pulled the Pats within 56-51 before the Blue Streaks began their procession to the line.
Alexander 5-2-12, Arciero 8-13-30, Byno 4-6-14, Grecco 2-0-6, Kircher 3-1-7, Stewart 3-0-7. Totals: 25-22-76.
Chandler 1-0-2, Chrisman 2-0-6, Holmes 6-6-23, Braye 1-0-2, Symes 4-2-10, Wheelings 6-0-12, Barkley 4-2-10. Totals: 24-10-65.
Saratoga 19 16 15 26 — 76
Schenectady 11 18 9 27 — 65
Three-point goals: Arciero, Grecco 2, Stewart, Chrisman 2, Holmes 5.